A serialized romantic caper about a woman who loses her job but finds love, intrigue, mayhem, and a new career buried in the unlikeliest of places.
Losing a cushy marketing job only to end up driving heavy equipment at the landfill would be a tough blow for most women.
But JJ Schultz isn’t most women, so she gamely swaps office politics and dry cleaning bills for a chance to crush garbage with a 150,000 pound machine. As it turns out, she doesn’t miss her old life too much…though her love life was sure a lot simpler when she didn’t wear a hardhat every day. Between her hot new co-workers and her on-again-off-again boyfriend, JJ has her hands full.
But the drama kicks into high gear when JJ and her sister, Lori, find evidence of a counterfeit handbag operation – something local police deem only slightly more urgent than collecting fruit flies. JJ soon finds herself unraveling a sinister plot in the company of a tie-tugging accountant, a straight-to-video action hero turned secretary, a suspicious but sneaky-hot engineer, and a host of other characters with questionable hygiene and morals.
What’s Cool from Coliloquy: In Getting Dumped, Tawna gives you one very simple choice point: Which guy should JJ call? Depending on your choice, you’ll get to know one of the guys a bit more intimately. Don’t be afraid to read all three versions–it’s for JJ’s own good, after all! And of course, feel free to re-read YOUR favorite over and over again. Tawna still isn’t sure who JJ should end up with, so she’s eager to see who her readers prefer. She sees the aggregate statistics on who gets picked the most, so the more you read, the more you influence what she writes.
IN MY FIRST hour driving the compactor, I crushed a doghouse, an old dishwasher, a half ton of rotten lettuce, a bag of doll parts, a table with a broken leg, and a box from Nordstrom that turned out to contain a thousand tubes of fuchsia lipstick
I was in heaven.
Climbing out of the cab for my lunch break, I grinned down at Burt and pocketed the keys.
“Whaddya think?” he asked.
“I love it!”
“You did good,” he said. “Nice job with that mattress.”
“The box springs were a little tricky.”
“You handled it like a pro. Didn’t even get the wires wrapped up around the bar.”
“Thanks! Should we go wash up for lunch?”
Burt frowned. “Wash up?”
The two of us began walking back to the office. I had gotten a tour of the facilities when I’d arrived at six a.m., but most of the office employees hadn’t arrived then and I was looking forward to meeting the rest of the team.
Burt and I pushed through the doors and stood there for a moment, eyes closed, breathing in the clean, odorless air conditioning. A sexy rumble pulled me out of my trance.
“Welcome to the Department of Solid Waste. You must be the new heavy equipment operator.”
I opened my eyes and stared. Behind the front desk was the most beautiful man I had ever seen in my twenty-seven years. Dark hair, bedroom eyes, chiseled cheekbones, and pecs you could pound nails with. I didn’t realize my jaw had actually dropped until Burt discreetly nudged it shut with one filthy knuckle. I swallowed hard and blinked a few times to clear my vision.
“JJ, meet Pete,” Burt said. “Pete, meet JJ. Pete is the secretary for the Department of Solid Waste.”
“Oh,” I said, offering my hand for the sex god to shake. I looked down, belatedly realizing I still wore my work gloves. And that the right one was streaked with something gooey.
“Mayonnaise,” I told him, peeling it off. “I crushed a whole crate of it. Got all over the door of the cab.”
“Excellent,” Pete said, flashing me a smile that would have caused a lesser woman to swoon.
Okay, I was a lesser woman. I gripped the edge of the counter and held on tightly, reminding myself I still had a boyfriend. Technically. Things had cooled considerably with Daniel since I’d decided to take the landfill job, and I wasn’t quite sure where we stood.
Pete regarded me through eyelashes that were thick and dark, fringing eyes the color of the Heineken bottle I’d just extracted from Shirley’s belly pan.
“Pete’s new here, too,” Burt offered. “Just started a few weeks ago.”
“Really?” I said, wondering at the reason a man who could easily make millions modeling boxer-briefs was sitting behind a plaque that said SECRETARY.
“Yup,” Pete said, smiling into my eyes. “Until you got here, I was the new kid in class. Maybe we can share a cubby and take turns on the monkey bars at recess.”
I felt my face grow warm and fought to swallow the butterflies crawling up my throat. “Did you get repositioned, too?”
“In your job. Not sexually, I mean. Or like a cruise ship. Repositioned—” I shut my mouth, realizing it was best to stop while he thought me tactless rather than insane. Pete just grinned at me.
“No, I applied for the job a couple months ago, and I had to go through a pretty rigorous interview process to get it. Typing tests, personality assessments — the county’s human resources department is very diligent.”
“Sure,” I agreed, eyeing him with interest. Gay? Had to be. Or was that a photo of his girlfriend framed on the desk behind him? I craned my neck for a better look.
“Anyway, welcome aboard,” Pete said. “Can I get you a cup of coffee?”
“It’s a hot, brewed beverage made with beans. Very tasty.”
I felt my face flame again.
“She’d love coffee,” Burt said, clearly sensing a rescue was in order. “We’re just heading to the break room for lunch.”
Pete nodded. “Sugar?”
I swallowed. “What?”
“In your coffee. Do you want sugar?”
“Right. Yes. Please. Thank you. Amen.” I turned away and grabbed the nearest doorknob. Burt touched my shoulder.
“That’s a closet,” he murmured. “Break room’s over here.”
A third-generation Oregonian who can peel and eat a banana with her toes, Tawna Fenske has traveled a winding career path from journalist to English teacher in Venezuela to marketing geek. She’s the author of the popular blog “Don’t Pet Me, I’m Writing” and a member of Romance Writers of America. Her debut novel, Making Waves, hit shelves August 2011 and was named one of ten “notable debuts” by Writer’s Digest. Booklist magazine stated, “Fenske’s off-the-wall plotting is reminiscent of a tame Carl Hiaasen on Cupid juice.”
Lisa: OK Tawna, here’s what we’re dying to know: Who is JJ’s true love? Will Adam be able to win Lori back? And who’s behind this counterfeiting ring?!
Tawna: Ha! I’m clearly not answering any of those. This is a serial, so part of the fun is working through JJ and Lori’s issues with them. But if you’ve finished the first installment, you have already met the mastermind.
Lisa: What inspired you to write this story?
Tawna: I’ve never lost my childhood fascination with the dump, so researching this book was my not-so-cleverly disguised excuse to talk my way into spending weeks at my local landfill admiring the heavy equipment and playing in piles of trash.
Lisa: Did they let you drive a compactor?
Tawna: Ride in one – yes. Drive, no. [technically, I didn't get a ride in a compactor. They let me crawl around in the cab when it wasn't moving, but no forward motion! I did get to ride some of the other equipment though.] The guys were understandably skeptical when I called to do research for a romantic comedy set at a dump.
Lisa: Tell us a little bit about JJ.
Tawna: JJ grew up around heavy equipment, but her fondness for fashion and all measure of girly things led her down a career path she believed was required for a real professional woman. After five years of a real office job, she’s ready to light her day-planner on fire. She’s also learned enough about herself to realize she’d be a whole lot happier driving heavy equipment, which is why the layoff from her office job doesn’t hit her too hard. She’s extremely close with her younger sister, Lori, and the two women share an intense love of fashion. JJ has a bit of an over-active imagination, which sometimes sends her jumping to wild conclusions. She loves to cook, and has an almost crippling need to take care of other people. She can be a bit insecure when it comes to men, and doesn’t realize she’s as attractive as she is.
Lisa: Is Blue Cat real? Much like aliens in Roswell, I JUST WANT TO BELIEVE!
Tawna: (laughing) Yes, Blue Cat is the pseudonym for Blue Cat. He’s very tricky like that. You can see more of his (and my) exploits at my blog, http://tawnafenske.blogspot.com.
Lisa: Who will love this book?
Tawna: Fans of Janet Evanovich are likely to enjoy Getting Dumped. It would likely appeal to women who like their mystery/romance a little offbeat. Older readers of “traditional” cozy mysteries (the sort that take place in knitting shops and bookstores) might not connect with this story in the same way, but readers who enjoy quirkier comedy should love it!